LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||18/JUN/2008 10:32 PM|
|Assunto:||possibility vs. probability|
<<What do you guys think about it? I can't even tell them apart in Portuguese, let alone in English>>
"In Brazil," says "Não Erre Mais!" author Luiz Antonio Sacconi, "a massive earthquake may likely occur if the rocks beneath it start to move uncontrollably." In saying so, Mr. Sacconi only alluded to or hinted at a possibility. (Some day an earthquake or several earthquakes will hit the country. We only don't know exactly when or exactly where they will hit.)
Now, if Mr. Sacconi could predict when and where the next earthquake out of a thousand will hit, after having himself had his share of or having survived potentially destructive quakes, then he might as well have said, "Oh my God! The next one will probably hit 3.217km west of Cumaru in 24 hours, 55 minutes and 39 seconds!" He knows it will hit, so he uses "probably," not "possibly."
Further, an ant can possibly kill an elephant, BUT it won't PROBABLY happen.
If the ant had super powers (just like Superman), then it PROBABLY would kill the elephant, hurl it a million kilometers up into outer space, bang it into a gory mass, or fling it whole well far over my backyard's multicolored fence.
And you won't PROBABLY understand it...
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